The Right Amount of Discussion
Some amount of preliminary design discussion is necessary and appropriate when estimating. However, spending too much time on design discussions sends a team too far up the accuracy/effort curve of Figure 6.1. Here’s an effective way to encourage some amount of discussion but make sure that it doesn’t go on too long. Buy a two-minute sand timer and place it in the middle of the table where planning poker is being played. Anyone in the meeting can turn the timer over at any time. When the sand runs out (in two minutes) the next round of cards are played. If agreement isn’t reached, the discussion can continue. But, someone can immediately turn the timer over, again limiting the discussion to two minutes. The timer rarely needs to be turned over more than twice and over time this helps teams learn to esti- mate more rapidly.